Sheila Ronning: Here’s How to Secure Your Seat at the Boardroom Table

April 24 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: Creating Your Own Opportunities

I read a great column in which one entrepreneur shared his thoughts about business school versus real life. In biz school, the concept of competition reigns supreme. But the truth is that competing for better jobs, more money and extra attention limits your thinking. Instead of competing for what’s already created, create something of your own. Regardless of whether you’re in the business world, it’s a good reminder that life isn’t a competitive episode of Survivor. There’s enough opportunity to go around—if you’re willing to seize it or, heck, create a whole new sphere of opportunity yourself.


Shaping your own career can be terrifying. It’s one of the best ideas to instill in girls and women, though, because in case you haven’t noticed, top career positions for women haven’t been particularly accessible throughout time. According to one Deloitte report, while the number of women with positions on corporate boards has increased in recent years, the overall figure is still abysmal, with women holding only 12 percent of corporate-board seats worldwide, and only 4 percent actually chairing boards.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Sheila Ronning, Founder and CEO of Women in the Boardroom

Sheila Ronning sees that 12 percent figure as a challenge to go, go, go in order to propel more Women in the Boardroom. The founder and CEO of a global organization aptly named just that, Sheila is putting her decades of corporate experience to use to ensure more women get a seat at the table.

Women in the Boardroom provides senior-level executive women the tools, knowledge and connections they need to take on corporate-board service. And with more than 40 percent of its VIP members already serving on corporate boards, Sheila’s organization is making great progress.

But there’s still much work to be done. In 2017, Women in the Boardroom released the results of its survey of 500 ladies interested in serving on a corporate board and those who were already serving. The results were illuminating. The bulk of respondents, 86 percent, said they feel women who are qualified to serve on boards often don’t realize it’s an option, while about one-third feel women do indeed advocate for other women to fill board seats.

And that kind of advocacy is what Women in the Boardroom is all about. While the organization offers inspiration from board-serving women and education about how to reach that powerful level, what’s particularly of note is its list of recent board openings. VIP members can take advantage of these available postings and find the right fit.

Sheila is blazing the trail to make boardrooms everywhere more equal. But despite her accomplishments, her career trajectory may come as a surprise. Let’s just say she didn’t start out with a board seat. In fact, after graduating from college, she worked as a manager at Best Buy. She worked hard, seeking promotion as acknowledgment for her reliability and willingness to serve. But after regularly witnessing her male trainees getting promoted instead, Sheila realized she was attempting to rise among the ranks of an old boys’ club.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, but this reality check provided Sheila the realization that she wasn’t after some dude’s approval; she was after a top leadership position. In order to reach that goal, she had to cut ties and do what was in her best interest. Thank goodness because it turns out her subsequent launch of Women in the Boardroom is definitely in other women’s best interest too.

As Sheila says, ladies, take the next step. Show up, stand up and speak up!


With Sheila Ronning’s important work in mind, today’s quote comes from mid-20th century politician Emily Taft Douglas:

“If women understood and exercised their power, they could remake the world.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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